Remembering Wieden+Kennedy Founder Dan Wieden

Remembering Wieden+Kennedy Founder Dan Wieden

Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden+Kennedy, the largest independently owned advertising agencies, died peacefully on 30 September in his hometown of Portland aged 77.

Wieden formed the agency alongside David Kennedy in 1982 and went on to create legendary advertising campaigns for some of the world’s largest brands.

The agency produced adverts for the likes of Coca-Cola, Honda, Microsoft, and Proctor & Gamble. However, it is best known for its work with Nike, the agency’s first client.

Wieden+Kennedy produced the sportswear brand’s first TV commercials, as well as iconic spots featuring Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, basketball player Bo Jackson, and Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG yellow bracelet campaign.

Wieden even coined Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline.

Born on 6 March 1945, Wieden graduated from the University of Oregon in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He briefly worked in public relations before trying his hand at copywriting, beginning a life-long career in advertising.

On April Fools’ Day, 1982, Wieden and Kennedy founded Wieden+Kennedy with a card table, a few chairs, some cardboard file cabinets, and one client – fellow Portland-based company Nike – despite Nike founder Phil Knight telling the pair that he “didn’t believe in advertising.”

Wieden+Kennedy grew to become the world’s largest independent advertising network with offices around the world, over 1500 employees, and thousands of alumni. Wieden also put the agency into a trust, ensuring that it would remain independent forever.

The agency released a statement upon Wieden’s passing:

“We are heartbroken. But even more so, we are overcome with gratitude and love. Thank you Dan, for throwing the doors wide open for people to live up to their full potential. Thank you for your steadfastness, courage, faith and abiding love. Thank you for making this beautiful creative life possible. We will miss you so much.”

He is survived by his wife Priscilla Bernard Wieden, daughter Tami (Wieden) and Peter Wiedensmith, daughter Laura (Wieden) and Joe Blatner, daughter Cassie Wieden, son Bryan Wieden and wife Jessica, stepson Nathan Bernard, stepdaughter Bree Oswill and Matvey Rezanov, stepson Sean Oswill and wife Nicole, 12 grandchildren and brother Ken and sister Sherrie.

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